By Mohammed Shafeeq
Hyderabad: Sunrisers Hyderabad beat Kolkata Knight Riders by five wickets to storm into the play-offs of the sixth Pepsi Indian Premier League (IPL) at the Rajiv Gandhi international stadium Sunday night.
The home side achieved the 131 target with the loss of five wickets with seven balls to spare, but not before some anxious moments.
Requiring 15 off last two overs, Darren Sammy hit Abdullah for two consecutive sixes to seal the match, much to the delight of the over 32,000 crowd.
Sunrisers’ openers had scored 89 in 12th over and were looking set for a comprehensive win when loss of five wickets with the addition of just 22 runs in six overs made things suddenly difficult for them. Sammy’s hits, however, provided relief.
Earlier, Sunrisers made a brisk start with openers Parthiv Patel and Shikhar Dhawan. Patel struck two consecutive boundaries in the second over bowled by Pradeep Sangwan, who was playing only the second match of this season.
The wicket-keeper batsman then welcomed Sunil Narine with a boundary and hit two boundaries in a row to Yousuf Pathan in the next over.
Till then all six boundaries came from Patel’s willow. An aggressive Dhawan also began to open up, hitting Pathan over the fence. That over from Pathan, sixth of the inning, went for 15 runs.
The openers laid a solid foundation by scoring 45 in the first six overs.
Dhawan jumped high and hit a bouncer from Kallis over covers for a delightful six. The southpaw sent the next delivery for a boundary through extra-cover. There was no stopping this 27-year-old as he blasted two more boundaries in the next over bowled by Shami Ahmed.
It suddenly looked a different track from the one where KKR struggled for runs. With 74 for no loss in nine overs, the match was almost over.
However, there was twist in the tale. The 89-run opening partnership was broken when Iqbal Abdullah trapped Dhawan (42 off 35 balls,3×4, 2×6) before the stumps.
Abdullah gave KKR another breakthrough by sending back Patel (47 off 37 balls, 7×4) in the 14th over. Skipper Cameron White (2 of 4) was run out in the next over.
Abdullah claimed another wicket when Hanuma Vihari (6 off 13) was caught while trying to slog him over point. Three wickets in three overs put pressure on the home side.
Narine added more pressure by bowling a maiden over, his last and 17th of the inning. Shami Ahmed bowled Perera in the next over to heighten the home side’s anxiety. There was some relief when Biplab Samantray hit Shami to a boundary on the very first ball he faced. In the 19th over bowled by Abdullah, Sammy sealed the match for the home team.
Earlier, electing to bat after winning the toss, KKR scored 130 for seven in 20 overs, thanks mainly to Pathan’s 49 not out off 29 deliveries.
The last year’s champions found run-making tough on a slow pitch and on the disciplined bowling by Sunrisers in their familiar home conditions.
Bowling with perfect line and length once again, the Sunrisers bowlers did not allow KKR batsmen to free their arms. It was only Pathan who played some confident shots in his brisk knock which included three fours and three hits over the fence. The other notable contribution was made by Jacques Kallis (24 off 29 balls)
Thisara Perera drew the first blood for Sunrisers when Manvinder Bisla (15 off 17 balls) tried to loft him over mid-wicket and a top edge landed in the safe hands of Cameron White, leaving the visitors at 25 for one in fifth over.
Gautam Gambhir (10 off 17) failed once again. He started running immediately after a cut shot towards point and after reaching half way through realized that Kallis did not want the run. He tried to return but it was too late.
Karan Sharma gave another breakthrough in the 11th over when Eoin Morgan, who survived loud LBW appeals facing the same bowler earlier, was found plumb in front of the wicket as he missed the ball while trying to go for a big hit.
Pathan then joined Kallis to steer the innings. The experienced batsmen kept the score board ticking with singles and occasional boundaries. They added 30 runs for the fourth wicket, the highest partnership of the innings.
Dale Steyn struck on the first ball of his second spell and the 16th over of the inning to remove his compatriot Kallis, who tried to loft him but found Dhawan at deep square-leg. Kallis struck two boundaries in his knock of 24 off 29 deliveries.
Ten Doeschate (1 off 5) went cheaply when Amit Sharma trapped him in front of the wicket. Steyn dealt another blow by sending back Paras Dogra (5 off 8), who was playing his first match.
Steyn was once again pick of the bowlers with two for 24. Anand Rajan, playing his only second match this season and coming in for Ishant Sharma, claimed one for 22. Perera, Amit Mishra and Karan Sharma bagged a wicket each.